John Prescott, who as deputy prime minister punched a protester in the face, has confessed to suffering from bulimia, the eating disorder usually associated with anxious young women.
In his memoirs he admits to gorging on vast amounts of food and then vomiting. Prescott writes: “I’ve never confessed it before. Out of shame, I suppose, or embarrassment or just because it’s such a strange thing for someone like me to confess to. I could sup a whole tin of Carnation condensed milk, just for the taste, stupid things like that. Marks & Spencer trifles, I still love them, one of my favourites. I can eat them for ever. Whenever I go to Mr Chu’s in Hull, my favourite Chinese restaurant in the whole world . . . I could eat my way through the entire menu.”
Prescott says one of the causes of the disorder was stress, brought on by overwork as far back as the 1980s when he was in the Labour shadow cabinet.
“The only break I ever took was to eat.That’s all I did. Work, and then quickly eat something. It became my main pleasure, having access to my comfort food. So what I did was stuff my face with anything around, any old rubbish, burgers, chocolate, crisps, fish and chips, loads of it, till I felt sick - but at least I’d had the pleasure of stuffing my face and feeling really full. Then there would be a weird kind of pleasure in vomiting and feeling relieved.”
Prescott, 69, resigned last June and is retiring as an MP at the next election. “I haven’t suffered from bulimia for more than a year now,” he says. “I try to exercise in the gym for 45 minutes every day. My weight, though, is still over 15 stone - as I do love my food - but I try not to snack between meals and to eat at sensible times.”
He hopes that by coming out about his bulimia he might “help the many young women - and others - who suffer from it. I hope that it will encourage people to come out and discuss these matters and not suffer in silence”.
Incidentally, when John Prescott was deputy prime minister he claimed £4,000 in expenses for food.
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